Prolonged exposure to 17-beta-estradiol (E2) is important in causing breast cancer. The carcinogenic effects are imposed on the estrogen receptors on the surface of breast cells. Anti-estrogen treatments, such as by tamoxifen and by the aromatase inhibitors, are beneficial at first, but, resistance to them develops and the cancer grows. Aromatase enzyme promotes the conversion of androgens to estrogens in breast tissue.
NA+,K+-ATPase is an ion pump (known as the sodium-potassium pump) on the surface of cells which has been found to be a target useful in breast cancer therapy. The ion pump is implicated in the development and progression of breast cancer. The pump should function to maintain the proper Na/K ratio across the cell wall, which determines cell survival. Altered expression and functioning of the Na/K pump has been found in Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. This abnormal functioning has been seen in cells before cancer develops.
Ouabain and digitalis are heart medications which have been used for centuries. Digitalis is derived from foxglove (Digitalis purpurea.) Some mammals have been found to have endogenous ouabain in the nano-molar levels. Patients on digitalis medications, especially, whole-leaf digitalis, have lower rates of cancer and lower rates of cancer recurrence.
CONCLUSION: Together, the NA+,K+-ATPase and the estrogen receptor could be beneficial targets in breast cancer treatment. Ouabain and digitalis could be useful against both targets.
NOTE: Ouabain is from the ripe seeds of an African plant. Digoxin and digitalis are related. They block the Na/K pump at high concentrations and stimulate the same pump at low concentrations. Kudzu contains puerarin, which has been shown to be an aromatase inhibitor.
Read how saponins, soapy glycosides, from Tribulus terrestris increase apoptosis and reduce proliferation in cancer cells.
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